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Government to stack electoral cards in their party’s favour

Heading Labour's way

Heading Labour’s way

Conservative government will make it harder for Labour to win power.

The Policy agenda laid out in the Queen’s speech is to convince voters that the leopard has changed its spots and that the government is the friend of the workingman and woman.

Attempting again to wear the mantle of one-nation Conservatism.

But its not just a hearts and minds job, there are taking practical steps to make Labour’s task of winning power much more difficult next time.

There are two strands to the strategy.

The first is to hit the party in their pocket. The device for this is the bill to change trade union law. The main purpose of bill is to make industrial action more difficult. Strikes in public services must be backed by 40% of eligible union members, and a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots. They also propose to lift restrictions on the use of agency staff to replace striking workers.

Political levy

But why waste a trade union bill if it gives you an opportunity to put the boot into your political opponents. The Tories are never slow to take their chances

So they’ve aimed an Exocet directly at a major source of Labour funding – the political levy. 70 per cent of the party’s donations are from trade unions. But not for much longer if the government get their way.

Union members will have to opt-in to paying the political levy rather than having the right to opt out after being automatically enrolled.

Labour’s income will face a massive drop if this comes about.

In Northern Ireland, where an opt-in system already exists, just 40 per cent of members contribute, compared to 8.8 per cent who opt-out in the rest of UK.

The Tories already have considerably more money at their disposal than Labour. In 2014 they had £28,930,508 to Labour’s £18,747,702. This gap will certainly grow if the current proposals become law.

 Poor people don’t vote

Alongside this financial advantage the second strand of the strategy comes into play  - new constituency boundaries.

Not just redrawing the boundaries, but redrawing them on a new system. The plan is to base new constituencies on electoral registration, rather than population.

A technical point you may say. Yes, but and it’s a mighty big but for Labour. Urban and socially deprived areas where registration is low are likely to have fewer MPs per person than affluent areas where registration is high.

Now it doesn’t take a degree in political science to work out who gains in such a system. Some experts reckon that the current government’s majority of 12 would rise to about 50 under this new system.

Together they provide a double whammy to Labour’s election chances. Some serious thinking will be required if Labour is to overcome such disadvantage.

Electing a new leader is the easy bit; refashioning a party to face the new more arid political landscape is the challenge.

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3 Responses to “Government to stack electoral cards in their party’s favour”

  1. Karen says:

    ‘Electing a new leader is the easy bit; refashioning a party to face the new more arid political landscape is the challenge.’

    Perhaps you should have written, electing a new leader is the easy bit; refashioning a party to secure government is quite another.

    Look to Wales to see what more of the same can bring; a failing NHS, a failing education system, failing local government and a compliant, gutless and toothless ‘free press’.

    Ah well, at least the language is flourishing.

    • iestyn says:

      Karen: “Look to Wales to see…”

      Surely, the problems in the Health service, in Education and Local government are a result of the lack of free press. We in Wales rely on British media that generally don’t give a fig about Wales, unless there’s some specific angle – for instance to bash the Labour party with cherry picked statistics.

      How bad is the NHS? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead within a decade if you believe the Tory press, yet there are some things that the Welsh NHS does better than in England. We dont get to hear about them, because we don;t have any press.

      Education the same – we hear about PISA and other failings, but never about the results of the Foundation phase, and other Welsh innovations. We do stuff differently to England, but we don’t get to hear anything but comparisons with a political agenda, which currently means “Labour Party bashing”.

      I’m no fan of the Labour party, but I would like to know what the Welsh Labour Government has done that works, and what needs improving on. I’d also like to know what the cost of the impovements to one service will be for other services. For instance, since the Conservatives started using the Welsh health service as a Labour Bashing club, we’ve seen other budgets (relevant ones, like free swims for young people, and the council budgets that support the elderly and prevent bed blocking) slashed to make more money available to the NHS. Is this long term thinking, or just reaction to the Anglo-centric politicking of the “National” media? We don;t know, because its only through the “National” media that we get any information about what’s going on.

  2. Karen says:

    iestyn, I’d also like to know what the Welsh Labour government has done that works.

    No matter how hard I try I cannot think of a single thing. Not even the attack on the ‘plastic bag’.

    A simply shocking state of affairs and the fact that we continue to take such lying down is yet another indictment on our appalling education system.

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